A few weeks ago, I got an email from my cheesemonger friend, Hunter, that began like this: Have you had Remeker Pure Yet? If not, you should stop whatever you are doing….
Hunter Fike is the cheesemonger who wrote the “Cheesemonger Notes” in my cheese book, so when he tells me to stop the world for a hunk, I have to comply. I called the Chestnut Street Di Bruno Bros. and put half a pound on hold. “Don’t sell it to anyone but me!” I pleaded with Rich, the cave manager. There was half a wheel left, and he said it was going fast.
Remeker Pure is the subject of my blog post for Di Bruno Bros. this week, which you can read here.
But I also want you to take a close look at Remeker Pure — it’s not just “another Gouda.” It’s been rubbed with clarified butter instead of dipped in wax — like most Goudas. If you look at the photo below, where Remeker Pure poses smoothly next to a wax figure (Beemster Graskaas), you can see the difference in texture. Remeker Pure is like a buttery Gouda lozenge.
Disclosure: I freelance for Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia’s oldest and largest cheese counter. I write for their blog twice a month — I select the subjects myself — and am compensated for my work, which is how I fund my dairy habit.
Back in October, I posted about my upcoming Live Cultures Workshop in Puglia, Italy — and, darlings, what a pleasure to receive so many registrations! The trip filled in less than a month, which has prompted a second Live Cultures Workshop from June 1-8. It’s the same basic itinerary and same exact price, but there’s one little bonus.
Our host at Messors — the fabulous Tonio Creanza, pictured below — is so excited that “all of these cheese lovers from the States” are coming that he asked me about doing a 2-day extension to Pompeii with a cheese stop or two along the way. The Pompeii extension will run from June 8-10, and it will be led by Tonio and a local archaeologist who will lead us through the ancient city and tell us about its food culture, its chefs. At the end of the tour, we’ll do a tasting of volcanic wine. Smashing, I say!
If you’d like to go on this glorious June junket, you can read up on the itinerary and send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange to make a deposit. I have 4 spots that are still open.
Puglia Workshop Details, June 1-8
Who else is participating in these workshops? Cheesemakers, cheesemongers, bloggers, self-professed cheese fanatics, culinary dreamers, and a few who just want to enjoy learning about a new food culture over cheese, wine, and bread. Some folks are undertaking their first voyage to Europe (I’m so delighted to have them), and some are experienced travelers. Some are singles, others come in a two-pack.
My colleague, Aimee Knight, and I are thrilled to have such a great mix of travelers. We’ve both taught classes in Italy (travel writing, food writing), but we’ve never been able to create an itinerary around a working farm. When we’re not working or blogging these days, we’re swooning over ideas, recipes, and photos like these. Let us know if you can join us…
As of today, it’s been seven months since the publication of The Di Bruno Bros House of Cheese. Here I am at my little cherry desk, and would you believe that I am still surrounded by a hodgepodge of drafts? Maybe I’ll use those marked-up pages for holiday wrapping. Maybe I’ll send you a signed cheese book wrapped in page 210 with a recipe for Blue Velvet Pudding. Shall I?
Promoting a book is funny work. It’s exciting to hold the bound copy but disillusioning to stand around at book signings where people offer a mix of delight and downright disinterest — “I can’t possibly buy another cookbook.” Well…okay, but it’s not just another cookbook! It’s my cheese guide, grumpkin, which is much, much sexier!
Anyway, far be it from me to get my girdle in a wudge. The holidays are upon us like horses, like horses. Below is a list of signings where you can find me in November and December, and if you want a personalized copy sent to you with a MF tote…well, patience, patience. I have a Madame Fromage Holiday Weekender Bag in the works. Of course I do, darling, of course!
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, 11 am – 1 pm
Saturday, Nov. 16, Nov. 16, 2013 1-3 pm
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 10:30 am-12:30 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, noon-1:30 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 6-8 pm
RSVP to email@example.com
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 10:30-12:30
Wednesday, Dee. 18, 2013, 7-9 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 11 am-1 pm
Saturday, Dec. 21, noon- 2 pm
Here’s one of my favorite party tricks: give your guests the assignment to bring a bottle of wine that fits into one of three categories (bubbly, big red, or dessert wine). Then run to the cheese shop and buy six hunks of cheese — two cheeses to match each wine style — and a little nosh. When everyone comes over, pop the corks and start pairing those cheeses. It’s a ball, and no one will want to leave.
This Sunday, I’ve plotted just such a fete with a crew from the South Philly Food Co-op (4-6 p.m.). If you live in the Philadelphia area, you can join us (tickets here). If you live far away, you can try this party trick at home. Here’s how it works:
Tips for a Winter Wine & Cheese Party
1. When you send out invites, tell each guest to bring one of the following bottles of wine:
- Bubbly (Prosecco, Cava, Champagne)
- Big Red (Zin, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)
- Dessert wine (Madeira, Port, Sherry, Riesling, Ice Wine)
2. Here’s your assignment: go to a respected cheese shop and work with a cheesemonger to pick out the following cheese styles:
- Two triple crèmes (for the bubbly)
- One bracingly sharp Cheddar, one extra aged Gouda (for the big reds)
- One salty blue, one hard sheep’s milk cheese (for the dessert wines)
3. Load up on baguettes, plump green olives, dried apricots, roasted almonds, speck (if you want charcuterie) and cherry jam. Set everything out on some nice cutting boards. Put out lots of glasses and little plates. Then let people taste, take notes, talk with their mouths full, etc. Don’t forget:
- Serve your cheeses at room temperature.
- Set out a different knife for each cheese.
- Slice your cheeses length-wise so that they form pie-shaped wedges — that way everyone can get a little rind.
Note: There are many more cheeses you could choose for this party, but this is a good start to understanding how cheeses and wines match. Bold reds can be difficult to pair, so the key is to lean sweet (like jammy zins) and add spice (like sharp Cheddar). Let me know if you make some scintillating discoveries.
For more entertaining ideas, check out my book. It’s the result of many, many cheese and wine parties, though I also love beer. I’ll give you more party tips like this one in the coming weeks.
I like to say I’ve never met a rind I didn’t like. If I’m at a party and I see people trimming off the edges off a Brie, I always want to tell them not to cut off the tastiest part – but usually I just snag the leftovers for myself and slip them into my handbag (you can toast those Brie rinds later at home on baguette rounds, then add a drizzle of honey). Here’s what I want you to remember next time you confront a funky wheel: Cheese rinds are actually the most flavorful part of a cheese.
Should you eat every rind you meet?
Disclosure: This teaser leads to a bimonthly column I write for Di Bruno Bros. Although I select the topics, I’m paid for these posts, which is how I keep up with my obscene habit.